This is the next post in my series on the essential tools which I believe should be the foundation of every estate plan.  Contrary to popular belief, not every document in an estate plan is intended for the disposal of the testator’s property.  Some tools help designate an Agent to make decisions on behalf of the Principal, while others plan for end-of-life situations.  My previous article discussed one such tool – the power of attorney.  It also mentioned the importance of hiring an experienced estate planning attorney.  An Oklahoma power of attorney allows the Principal to name an Agent to take care of their affairs, which must be signed in front of a notary.  Under such powers, the Agent is allowed to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of the Principal, but not healthcare decisions.  In this post, I will discuss another crucial estate planning tool – the Oklahoma healthcare power of attorney.  If you or a loved one is in need of a healthcare power of attorney, we are here to help.  Please contact us online or by telephone to get in touch with our estate planning law firm and speak to an Oklahoma wills and trusts lawyer.

An Oklahoma healthcare power of attorney allows another person to make healthcare decisions for you

In addition to wills or trusts, a healthcare power of attorney is a critical component of every estate plan.  This written document enables you to name another person to make healthcare decisions for you.  The person creating the document is called a Principal, and the one who is designated with the decision-making ability is referred to as the Agent.  Generally, the Agent is authorized to act when the Principal is unable to make healthcare decisions independently.  However, the document can also specify that the authority be effective immediately.  It is advisable to name an alternate Agent, just in case the first choice is unable or unwilling to act.  The Agent has the authority to make all healthcare decisions for you, except for withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, nutrition, or hydration.  This can only be accomplished through an advanced directive, another estate planning tool that we will discuss in our next post.  A medical power of attorney is a very important document.  Under such powers, the Agent can choose your doctors, hospitals, make treatment decisions, and sign a do-not-resuscitate consent.  Therefore, you must name an Agent who you trust unequivocally and absolutely.

An Oklahoma healthcare power of attorney must be signed by the maker and witnessed by two adults

An Oklahoma healthcare power of attorney must be in writing, signed by the Principal, and signed and witnessed by two adults.  The powers granted can be instructed to take effect only if a specified condition arises, or effective immediately.  It is important to have a conversation with the Agent before executing the document to ensure that they fully understand your wishes and their responsibilities.  After execution, it is recommended to provide a copy to your primary physician, or other healthcare providers, ensuring that the document is readily available should the Agent need to make decisions on your behalf.  Just to ensure that such powers are in full force and effect, you may include language to the effect that no subsequent disability, incapacity, or extended absence of the Principal will affect the power of attorney.  Although not required by law, you may utilize a form recommended under the Oklahoma Health Care Agent Act.  Click here to view the sample form based on which you may model your own health care power of attorney document.

Remember, each estate plan is unique, and it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss your testamentary intent and wishes.  By reviewing your specific situation, evaluating available options, and providing expert recommendations an attorney can guide you in establishing the best course of action.  If you or a loved one are just in need of a medical power of attorney or a more comprehensive estate plan, we are here to help.  Please contact us today, either online or by telephone to speak to an Oklahoma estate planning attorney.  We proudly serve Oklahoma County, Logan County, Cleveland County, and Grady County.